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The Historical Families of Dunfriesshire and the Border Wars

If the Roman Church in Scotland had been too lax in its discipline and practice, the same fault could not be found with the Presbyterian; [A curious letter exists (1560), signed by Argyll, James Stewart (Regent), and Ruthven, ordering the altars and figures of saints to be turned out of the "Kyrk of Dunkeld," and broken up.] and in Dumfries the Kirk Courts ruled with a severity and interference in domestic affairs during the 17th and 18th centuries which was hardly exceeded by the Inquisition in Italy and Spain. In 1659 nine old women were burned together for witchcraft, and even so late as 1709 a woman was consigned to the flames for the same alleged crime. Slander, Sabbath-breaking, swearing, drinking, and tale-bearing were punished by fines, whipping, the pillory, and sometimes very eccentric penances. A Roman priest, in 1626, was recognised crossing the bridge at Dumfries. He was stopped, but favoured by sympathisers in the crowd contrived to make his escape, while the vestments, altar books, and sacred vessels which he had with him in a bag were seized and burned at the Market Cross. The same was done with the property of another priest in 1658. It was forbidden to send a boy out of the country to be educated in a foreign school; and in 1631 the Privy Council even ordered the son of Lord Nithsdale to be taken from him and educated as a Protestant. In 1628 Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel; Gilbert Brown, formerly Abbot of Sweet Heart or Newabbey; his brother Charles; John Williamson in Lochmaben, and other influential people were ordered to be tried for "Papistry." Sir William Grierson of Lag and Sir John Charteris of Amisfield succeeded in arresting the ex-Abbot and his brother, whereupon their adherents subjected the Protestant minister of Newabbey and his family to ill-usage. In 1647 Lord Herries outwardly conformed to Presbyterianism.

The Scottish Lyon Office, with its contents, having been burned in the last century, and the law being strict in prohibiting the use of armorial bearings unless properly registered, most of the Scottish families matriculated their arms again. The Johnstones of Galabank registered theirs in 1772, and were recorded as belonging to "the family of Newby, an ancient cadet of the Johnstones of Johnstone." Although the tombs of their family of the date of 1649, 1692, and 1726 bore the arms of Johnstone of that Ilk without a difference, the arms of Johnstone of Galabank were registered with a wavy saltire as a mark of cadency, the last Marquis of Annandale being still living; but the late Mr Edward Johnstone, wishing to restore them to the style borne by his direct ancestors, re-matriculated in 1870. The last Marquis died in 1792, when his estates passed to his niece, married to Sir William Hope, who took the name of Johnstone, and their descendant, Mr Hope-Johnstone (born 1842), now owns the ancient barony of Annandale. His brother, Percy Alexander, late Captain 60th Rifles, born 1845, is his heir. He married his cousin, Evelyn Anne, and has issue.

In Sir William Pulteney, the Westerhall family produced one of the most eminent lawyers of the last century, and a distinguished member of the House of Commons. He married the heiress of William Pulteney, Earl of Bath, and took her name. As he left only a daughter, Henrietta Laura, created Countess of Bath in 1792, his baronetcy of Westerhall devolved in 1803 on his nephew, Sir John Lowther Johnstone, the grandfather of the present baronet. The heir to Sir Frederick John William Johnstone is his twin brother, Colonel George Keppel Johnstone, born in 1841. He married Agnes, daughter of Mr Thomas Chamberlayne, and has issue.

There was no minister at Annan or Graitney till about 1612, when Mr Symon Johnstone was appointed to Annan, and remained there many years. Charles I. made enemies of the Scottish landowners in Dumfriesshire as in other parts of Scotland by depriving them of a portion of their tithes, which they exacted from their tenants with far greater severity than had been exercised by the old abbots, to whom their lands had in many instances belonged; and although, when they received these lands, it had been with the stipulation that they should maintain the Parish Kirks this was often done very inadequately. The Johnstones and the Irvings of Bonshaw and Robgill supported Charles, while those noblemen whom his predecessors had enriched with church lands generally supported the Covenanters, particularly the Earl of Buccleuch; for Charles had reversed the attainder of Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, which compelled Buccleuch to restore some of the forfeited lands he had received from James I. The barbarity of the Covenanters in killing the wounded and executing their prisoners is a matter of history, and their subsequent triumph ensured the predominance of Presbyterianism.

In 1706 the representative of the Douglases, the Duke of Queensberry, was the largest proprietor in Dumfriesshire. His title and estates have now passed into a female branch represented by the Duke of Buccleuch, but his nearest male collaterals, the Douglases of Kelhead, succeeded to the titles of Marquis of Queensberry and Viscount Torthorell. The present owner of them has lately sold all his estates in Annandale.


An Act of 1427 ordained that "the small barons and free tenants need not come to Parliament nor general counsels, so that of each sheriffdom there be two or three wise men chosen at the head court of the sheriffdom, according to its size." In 1537 another Act ordered the barons to choose one or two of the wisest and most qualified to be Commissioners for the whole shire. In 1587 representation was limited to those who held "a forty shilling land in free tenantry of the King." The Parliaments sat at Scone, Perth, Stirling, or Edinburgh, and the Members voted as one Chamber, there being no division into an Upper and Lower House.

Thos. Lang 1357.
Thos. Welch 1452.
Robert MacBriar 1469.
Nicolas MacBriar 1504.
Herbert Rany 1572.
Patrick MacBriar 1579.
Archibald MacBriar 1581. (The same year a Dumfriesshire man, John Johnstone, merchant in Edinburgh, sat for that city. He was fourth son of John, Laird of Newbie; married Janet Hunter; died in 1601, leaving a son, John, who settled at Bordeaux, and a daughter, Helen, married to Hugh Dunbar, Writer to the Signet.)
Robert Cunniughame 1583.
John Maxwell 1585.
Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick 1593. (He was knighted and made a gentleman of the Privy Chamber by James VI. He fought on the side of Lord Maxwell at the battle of Dryfe Sands, and married Barbara Stewart, daughter of Sir Alexander Stewart of Garlies, .1614.)
Robert Johnstone, Brigholme and Newbie, Provost of Annan (brother to the M.P. for Edinburgh) 1598.
Sir J. Boswell of Auchinleck 1599.
Herbert Cunningham 1600-1612.
James Cunningham 1605.
William Maxwell 1612.
David Millar 1612.
Francis Irving 1617-25. (A monument exists to him in Annan churchyard.)
Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig, Steward of Annandale 1617.
Sir Wm. Grierson of Lag 1617-25.
John Corsell 1617.
Edward Johnstone of Ryehill and Newbie 1627-28-33.
Sir John Charteris—1621-25, 28-33.
Nicoll Cunningham 1621.
John Crichton of Rayhill 1628-33.
Robert MacBriar, Laird of Almagill— 1630-46-47-48.
William Fergusson 1640-41.
Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburn 1639-41. (In case of absence Sir John Charteris of Amisfield, his
Sir John Charteris 1639-41. (He married a daughter of William Crichton, Earl of Dumfries.)
John Corsane 1621-28-33.
John Johnstone of MyInfield and Galabank 1640-42, 1644-47.
Homer Murray -1643.
John Irving 1630-39-41.
George Johnstone of Galabank 1644-46-47.
Lawrence Davidson 1643-49.
Cuthbert Cunninghame, Advocate 1643.
John Kennedy 1643.
John Laurie 1643.
John Henderson 1645-47-48-61-63.
William Douglas 1644-48-49.
Sir Alexander Jardine 1645-46.
Robert Fergusson of Craigdarroch 1649-50-5l  61-63-65-67-69-72-78.
John Fergusson. 1649.
William Crichton 1645-47.
Sir James Douglas 1644-49-50-51.
Sir William Douglas (created Earl of Queensberry) 1647.
Sir James Johnstone (created Earl of Annandale, &c.) 1654-56.
Jeremy Tolhurst 1654-55, 59-60.
James Douglas of Mouswald 1649-50-51.
James Crichton, Sheriff of Dumfries 1661-63.
John Williamson 1661-63.
Robert Carmichael, Provost of Sanquhar 1665-67-69-72-78 81-82.
William Graham of Blaatwood 1609-72.
James Carruthers, Provost of Annan 1681-82.
John Irving 1661-65-67-69-74.
Hugh Sinclair of Inglistoune 1661-3, 1665-7.
David Johnstone of Galabank, Bailie of Annan 1678.
Sir Robert Dalziell 1667-69-74-81-82-85-86.
William Craig, Provost of Dumfries 1678-81-82.
Sir John DaIziell 1686-89-90.
Sir Thos. Kirkpatrick 1690-1702.
Thomas Kennedy 1685-86-89 to 1695.
John Boswell 1689-92.
Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall 1689-1700.
James Johnstone of Corehead 1690-93.
John Johnstone of Elsiechellis, Bailie of Lochmaben 1665 67-69-74-81-82. (Provost.)
John Sharp of Collistoun 1686.
Robert Johnstone 1695-1702-7.
William Crichton 1690 till 1702.
Alexander Johnstone of Elsiechellis 1693-1702.
Alex. Bruce 1692-1702 (expelled).
William Alves 1702-7.
Sir William Johnstone of Westerhall 1698 to 1722.
Alexander Fergusson 1702-7.
James Lord Johnstone 1708.
Sir John Johnstone of Westerhall 1700-8.
William Paterson, founder of the Bank of England and projector of the Darien Scheme 1708.
Mr Sharp of Hoddam 1702-7.
Sir Wm. Grierson 1709-11.
Dr John Hutton, M.D., of Padua—1710-13. (He accompanied William III. at the battle of the Boyne.)
Alexander Fergusson 1715-22.
William Douglas of Cavers 1722.27.
Charles Erskine of Barjarg 1722-41.
Hon. James Murray 1711-13.
Sir J. Douglas 1735-47.
Wm. Kirkpatrick 1736-8.
Sir Robert Laurie 1738-41
Lord John Johnstone (elected under age) 1741. (Died in 1743.)
Sir James Johnstone of Westethall, Provost of Lochmaben 1743-54.
James Veitch 1755-60.
Charles Douglas, Earl of Drumlanrig 1747-54.
William Douglas of Kelhead 1768-80.
Thomas Miller, Lord Advocate 1761-66.
James Montgomery 1766-68.
General Archibald Douglas of Kirkton 1754-61-68-74.
Sir R. Herries—1780-84.
Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall 1784-90.
Capt. Patrick Miller 1790-6.


General Sir R. Laurie 1774-1804.
Vice-Admiral Sir Wm. J. Hope 1804-30.
Viscount Drumlanrig (late Marquis of Queensberry) 1847-57.
John H. Hope-Johnstone of Raehills 1830-47, 57-65.
Colonel Walker of Crawfordton 1865-68, 69-74.
Sir S. Waterlow 1868.
John J. Hope-Johnstone 1874-80.
Sir Robert Jardine of Castlemilk 1880, et seq.


Hon. A. Hope 1796-1834.
Vice-Admiral Sir Wm. Johnstone Hope 1800-2.
Right Hon. Charles Hope 1802-3.
Viscount Stopford 1803-6.
Sir J. Heron Maxwell 1807.
Lord Wm. Robt. K. Douglas 1812-32.
General Matthew Sharpe of Hoddam 1833-41.
Win. Ewart 1847-68.
Sir Robert Jardine of Castlemilk 1868-74.
Ernest Noel 1874-86.
R. T. Reid, Q.C. 1886.


Robert. Macbriar 1469.
T. Welsh 1471.
Robert Macbriar 1472.
Robert Macbriar 1549.
John Macbriar 1552.
Archibald Macbriar 1570.
Herbert Rayning 1572.
Archibald Macbriar 1575.
Robert Macbriar 1578.
Robert Macbriar 1579.
Archibald Macbriar 1581.
Matthew Dickson 1582.
John Marshal 1583.
Simon Johnstone 1584.
Alexander Maxwell 1585.
Herbert Rayning 1586.
John Bryce 1587.
Roger Gordon 1588.
Herbert Rayning 1591-2.
Homer Maxwell 1593.
Lord Maxwell 1596.

In 1607 the Lords of the Privy Council directed the town replace Maxwell, then outlawed for the murder of Johnstone, by Sir R. Kirkpatrick.

Herbert Cunningham—1612. Doubtful.
John Corsane—1622.
Sir Roger Kirkpatrick—1623.
John Corrie—1639.
John Corsane—1642.
Robert Grahame—1643.
John Maxwell—1645.
Thomas Macburnie—1649 to 1654.
John Irving—1660 to 1665.
Thomas Irving—1665 to 1668.
John Irving—1668 to 1674.
Lord Drumlanrig—1683 to 1686.
John Maxwell—1687 to 1688.
Thomas Rome—1691.
Robert Johnstone and John Irving, alternately, till 1700.

In 1517 the Bailies of Dumfries were:—John Welsh, Andro Airying, John Ranyng, Adam Edzair, Edward of Johnstone, David Wilson, Thomas Macnaughton, George Curror, Herbert Gladstanes, Adam Wallace, James Kirkpatrick, David Cunningham.

In 1543—Edward Johnstone, John Crosbie, George Maxwell, Thomas Maxwell, Herbert Gladstanes, Herbert Parsons, Herbert Maxwell, Gilbert Macbyrnie, Andro Airying, William Paterson, Homer Maxwell, Anthony Houston, Robert Crawfurd, Thomas Ranyng.

In 1575—Herbert Baillie, William Gladstanes, Thomas Johnstone, Thos. Baty, William Paterson, Andro Moresone, Herbert Maxwell, Peter Davidson, James Wallace, Michael Newall, John Hereis, Andro Edzar, Herbert Ranyng, David Rae, John Roule.

On the accession of George I., and far into the reign of George III., this oath was required from the Provosts and Bailies, or any holding public office, in Dumfriesshire:—

"I, the underscribed, do truly and sincerely acknowledge, and declare in my conscience before God and the World, that my Sovereign, King George, is lawful and rightful King of Great Britain, and all other his Majesty’s dominions thereunto belonging, and I do solemnly and sincerely declare that I do believe in my conscience that the person pretended to be Prince of Wales during the life of the late King James, and since his decease pretending to be or taking upon himself the style and title of King of England by the name of James III., or of Scotland by the name of James VIII., or the style and title of King of Great Britain, had not any right or title whatsoever to the Crown of this realm, or any other dominion thereunto belonging. . . . and I will do my utmost to disclose and make known to his Majesty and his successors all treason and traitorous attempts which I shall know to be against him," &c. "So help me God."

In 1714, Abraham Crichton was Provost of Sanquhar, and John Crichton (two), Robert Fisher, William Macwath, James Stewart, &c., Bailies. At Sanquhar the Crichton family had almost the monopoly of the Provostship.

Stewards Depute of Annandale—1609, John Johnstone in Mylnfield; 1610, John Carruthers of Holmains; 1611, Master John Johnstone; 1613, John Carruthers.

The register of births, deaths, and marriages in Dumfries is not older than 1620, and is very much broken till the end of that century. Some of the entries are curious. Boys are registered as man bairns, and girls as maid bairns; and there is often a description of the person whose death is recorded, such as "a poor old woman," "a lame begging man," &c.; and in one instance the incumbent details the ancestry and virtues of his mother-in-law. The records of the burgh are preserved with intervals from 1479. The register of Dumfriesshire sasines, which begins in 1618, are lost during the years of Civil War, as is also the Register of Wills, and almost every other record relating to Dumfriesshire at that period.


Lord Maxwell—1591.
Robert Johustone of Brigholme and Newbie—1598.
John Johnstone of Newbie (nephew to the above)—1602.
Master of Maxwell—1606. (The Lords in Council directed the town to replace him by Sir William Cranstoun in 1607, on account of the murder of the Lord of Johnstone by Lord Maxwell.)
Edward Johnstone of Ryehill and Newbie—1612.
Robert Johnstone of Broomhills—1617.
Robert Johnstone of Raecleuch (tutor and nearest heir to the Laird of Johnstone)—1618.
Edward Johnstone of Ryehill—1619.
David Millar—1621.
Abraham Johnstone of Brume and Newbie, brother to Edward— 1622. (Specimens of their handwriting exist in connection with their office.)
David Millar—1625.
John Johnstone of Mylnfield—1624, and from 1638 to 1643.
Homer Murray (of the Cockpool family)—1643.
George Johnstone of Mylnfield; also Parliamentary Commissioner— 1646.
John Johnstone of Mylnfield—1649.
Mark Loch—1656. (He was the first lessee of the Government Post between Carlisle and Annan.)
Hugh Sinclair— 1661.
Bryce Blair—1666.
William Grahame of Blaatwood—1669 and 1683. (He married a Carlile of Bridekirk.)
William Johnstone, Earl of Annandale—1670.
David Johnstone, brother to John of Mylnfield (then dead)—1678.
James Carruthers—1681.
John Johnstone of Galabank—1682.
Bryce Blair—1685.
Earl of Annandale, created Marquis—1686 till 1713.
James Lord Johnstone—1713.
Bryce Blair, John Johnstone of Galabank, J. Irving, and others in the last century.

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